Near the end of October, OPRF High School is scheduled to release its Phase 2 capital improvement plan to upgrade the athletic facilities in the South Building. The plan should include complete replacement of some of the oldest and worst spaces in the entire high school — the old, decrepit locker rooms; the gyms (including the leaky dance gym and competition gyms); the two old, problematic pools; the weight room; and so on — and adding much-needed elevators and equipment storage.

Some have objected to spending a large amount of money on athletic facilities. They say we should spend that money on classrooms. But the fact is, all of these spaces are classrooms. They are learning spaces, and they are worthy of our investment.

Almost every single student at OPRF, almost every single day, attends PE. There’s no opting out; PE is mandatory.

That’s true for all four years of high school. PE is one of the only subjects every student will take their entire high school career. For some kids, it’s the highlight of the day. For some kids, the lessons they learn in the athletic facilities are the most important lessons they take from high school, and their PE teacher is the most important teacher they’ll have. For some kids, athletics is what keeps them coming to school.

PE classes are one of the only times that all students, regardless of academic ambition or socioeconomic status, are together in one room. PE spaces are for all kids, and they bring all kids together as equals. It’s like no other experience in the building.

The gyms, the pools, the weight room, the climbing wall, and the other PE spaces are classrooms. They are learning spaces. They are curricular spaces, every bit as much as a science lab or art studio.

We support OPRF’s efforts to upgrade all these spaces and to provide what’s best for our kids. We hope the District 200 Board of Education approves the Phase 2 plan and moves forward with it immediately.

Kristin & Kevin Friker
Oak Park

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